X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class (stylized onscreen as X: First Class) is a 2011 American superhero film, based on the X-Men characters appearing in Marvel Comics. It is the fifth installment in the X-Men film series. It is both a prequel and a soft reboot of the franchise, as well as the first installment of the prequel series, the film was directed by Matthew Vaughn and produced by Bryan Singer. The story is set primarily in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and focuses on the relationship between Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and the origin of their groups--the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, respectively, as they deal with the Hellfire Club led by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who is bent on world domination. The film co-stars Rose Byrne, January Jones, and Oliver Platt. The film also introduces new actors to the series including Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence who, like McAvoy and Fassbender, reimagine popular characters from the franchise (Beast and Mystique) that were already established in the original trilogy.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner first thought of a prequel based on the young X-Men during the production of X2, and later producer Simon Kinberg suggested to 20th Century Fox an adaptation of the comic series X-Men: First Class, though the film does not follow the comic closely. Singer, who had directed both X-Men and X2, became involved with the project in 2009, but he could only produce and co-write First Class due to other projects. Matthew Vaughn, who was previously attached to both X-Men: The Last Stand and Thor, became the director, and also wrote the final script with his writing partner Jane Goldman. First Class overtook a planned Magneto prequel that entered development hell and the Writer's Guild of America arbitration gave a story credit to Magneto writer Sheldon Turner.
First Class entered production in August 2010, with principal photography concluding in December and additional filming finishing in April 2011, just a few weeks before the film's premiere in June 2011. The tight schedule proved a challenge to the six companies responsible for the extensive visual effects, which included computer-generated sets and digital doubles for the actors. Locations included Oxford, the Mojave desert and Georgia, with soundstage work done in both Pinewood Studios and the 20th Century Fox stages in Los Angeles. The depiction of the 1960s drew inspiration from the James Bond films of the period.
First Class was a box-office success, becoming the seventh highest-grossing in the film series, and received positive reviews from critics and audiences, who praised the fresh revival of the franchise as well as its acting, screenplay, direction, action sequences, visual effects, and musical score. A sequel titled X-Men: Days of Future Past was released in May 2014, with Singer returning as director and Vaughn as co-writer. Another sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, was released on May 27, 2016. A third sequel, Dark Phoenix, is scheduled to be released on February 14, 2019.